My Family

My Family
Summer 2015

Saturday, September 22, 2012

An interesting encounter at a Chinese Restaurant

Tonight we went to a local chinese takeout restaurant.  We typically order in and don't actually stay at places like that, but we just decided to eat there.
The lady behind the counter was ... Chinese...I know not surprising.
But, she was very interested in Lucas and began a series of rapid-fire questions to him that began to make him feel very uncomfortable.
She attempted to speak chinese and he didn't want anything to do with it.
She asked if he was chinese, and before I could think I answered for him and said "yes".  He does not like it when I do that.  He wants to be an American.  Probably because he IS an American.  He is not a fan of chinese people.  We are trying to work through that.

She came back with more questioning.  She asked about his legs and again, I answered for him ( this is all in less than a minute)..argh..I'm gonna get this really I am.  I just said he had surgery, but he did NOT want that lady to know anything about him.

He turned the questioning back on her and said,
"Do you believe in Jesus?"...

She got kind of a serious look on her face and went silent--
for a moment but not long.
It was a serious question and one he often asks people he doesn't know.  He is very concerned about people knowing Jesus, and he is pretty certain there are no chinese people that know about him.  So when he asked her I know it was because he is trying to figure out if all people in America know Him --even Chinese Americans.

She started to drill him with more questions about china, where he lived there, etc.
Then she asked if we had to "pay china" for him.  I was shocked!
I've never had someone come right out and ask these bold questions especially in front of him.
She went on to ask how long we waited.
She was very curious why he would be available for adoption since he was a boy.

It was getting really uncomfortable.  And Lucas was becoming visibly uncomfortable and he would not look at her when she was talking.  We told him he needed to be kind but he did not have to answer any questions he didn't want to answer.  I finally got a clue and stopped answering questions for him and deferred all questions about it to him--at least the ones he could answer.   He told her he didn't like china.  She asked if he would go with her if she went back to visit sometime (sort of in a "harmless" sort of way) but he was pretty bold about saying "NO"!

I sort of felt like I was in China again when all the people stood around us at very close range -- no such thing as "personal space" there--.  She wanted to be in our business.  It was uncomfortable.
In the end, I want Lucas to know he needs to be polite.  He doesn't ever have to answer questions he doesn't want to answer (I'll keep my mouth shut if necessary).  But, mostly that he does not need to be afraid--especially if we are there with him.

We will help him navigate.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Firestation 3

Week 3 of Firestation visits...
Station 3
Since we have already been to several stations, I think the guys weren't quite sure what to tell Lucas anymore about the fire engine at their station since it is no different than others we have seen.  
But, we quickly learned there is always something to learn.  
It was kind of funny tho.  The firemen started the tour by asking Lucas what was on their truck!  Sort of quizzing him to see what he knew.  He told them a few things too. =)

Here is Lucas once again with the Jaws of Life--this is a smaller version--I guess there are different sizes.
Fireman Jose showing Lucas all about this "jaw"
This may look like any ole ladder to you, but it was a surprise to us.  It actually folds into itself vertically so it can be stored in a long narrow slot on the truck.  We had never seen this one before.  But, Lucas figured out that was what it was.  The firemen were actually doing training today learning how to take care of Attic Fires.  This ladder is used specifically for that type of fire, because it is not too big and it folds into itself so it can be manuvered easily.
 and one of the firemen actually asked if I wanted to be in a picture...yeah!  I was really there...
 More info on hoses and pumps on the truck.  Today we found out some of the hoses are preconnected hoses attached all over the truck.  These are used to pump water immediately upon arrival at the scene.  Since the truck holds 500 gallons of water, they can use these until the others get hooked up.  Other hoses have couplings at joints that can be removed or added to for different lengths they may need.  Those hoses get attached to the pump on the side of the truck and/or to the fire hydrant.  We also saw how there are different sized hoses.  There is a limit to the size of the hose that can be manuvered inside a house or building.
 Fireman Brent--the Driver today...
 Firemen Andrew, Jose, Maurice, Lieutenant Scott, Fireman Lucas, and Brent
 The Ambulance was gone when we first arrived.  They returned just in time for a photo op.
 Inside the ambulance

 Fireman Jose was so sweet to Lucas and took him around the fire engine and showed him where they sleep, etc.
 Thanks guys of Station 3!! You were awesome!!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Empowered to Connect

This weekend, Peter and I went to a conference called Empowered to Connect.
Lucas stayed with some wonderful friends.  And he did amazingly well.  Such an answer to prayer.  Isaac stayed home and got some good teen "alone" time.

The conference was about connecting with your adopted child. It ended up blowing us away! And changing our entire paradigm of parenting.

I was familiar with the organization that sponsered it- Show Hope and also familiar with the main speaker--Dr. Karyn Purvis author of a well respected book on the topic The Connected Child.
Everyone who has adopted knows this book.  It's sort of a basic staple of the diet of books to read when adopting.  I read it as we were waiting for Lucas and have picked it up on occassion in the past 1 1/2 years.  But, to be honest, I realize now I was not a very good student of it.

Another favorite book I've mentioned before is Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control. p:// It turns out both books have very similar philosophies.

Originally, I wanted to go because I knew I needed to learn even more about how to parent Lucas better.  Peter went because he just wanted to see what it was going to be about, but he went with a little hesitation that it could be "psychobabel" (said in jest of course).

I've been struggling over the past few weeks with some more meltdowns with Lucas because I decided it was time he start to listen to me and began to demand things like "first time obedience".  It seems like a basic premise of parenting to me.  And now that he understands we are a family, and he understands the language better, I thought it was a good time to lay down the "rules".
I've always wanted to do this with him but have struggled to implement it.  Now I know why.  I find it quite "coincidental" that I decided to impliment this stuff and we crashed and burned right before the conference.  I'm a poster child for what NOT to do with your adopted child the past 2 weeks.

Even though I knew better, I began to lay down consequences because Lucas was not obeying me.
I found myself getting bitter and angry inside and more and more frustrated.  And he was sensing that and responding accordingly.
Both Peter and I thought we were seeing manipulation.  Peter is all about "obey" and he gets pretty frustrated when our kids don't.  Both of us were increasingly more and more frustrated and coming down hard on Lucas.  More yelling and frustration just escalated things.  O ur house was becoming more and more filled with yelling, and more disobedience.  How does that work?  I wanted More obedience but he was increasingly less obedient.

Now that we are on the other side of this weekend, both Peter and I look at eachother and are at so much peace.  God revealed things to us that we were doing wrong.  He once again showed us the tender/wounded heart of our boy.  We now better understand so many things.  Here are a few things we took away from the weekend:

1.  Lucas's brain chemistry was altered by all the experiences he had before he came to us.  Details are in the notes we took, but it is a real scientific fact that he may NOT be able to understand logic or consequences completely particularly when he is dysregulated.
2.  EVERYTHING we do should be to promote attachment and connectedness.  That means such basics as talking softly. Being "present" with him with eye contact and close proximity before things get to a point of a royal meltdown. More "playful" engagement. (I know...duh!)
3.  At this point, the word "manipulation" is not a part of our family vocabulary.  For example, remember the sweet post about giving food to Lucas at bedtime? well it became a huge issue and we created a monster out of it.  It didn't stay sweet.  We forgot his woundedness and were too worried about being manipulated.  We were wearing out and decided it was time for him to just "go to sleep".  UGH!  Now we are going to pay closer attention to those requests again.
4.  Deyhydration is just as bad for these kiddos as starvation.  I know seems obvious, but he should be offered water every 2 hours.  Why is that so surprising to me? Again, it can actually cause altered brain chemistry. Needless to say waterbottles have returned to being within reach at all times.
5.  Food every 2 hours
6.  Activites every 2 hours that are both
"Vestibular input (the sense of movement, centered in the inner ear). Any type of movement will stimulate the vestibular receptors, but spinning, swinging, and hanging upside down provide the most intense, longest lasting input. If your child has vestibular (movement) sensitivities, please work closely with a sensory smart OT who can help you recognize and prevent signs of nervous system overload."

"Proprioceptive input (sensations from joints, muscles and connective tissues that lead to body awareness) can be obtained by lifting, pushing, and pulling heavy objects, including one’s own weight. A child can also stimulate the proprioceptive sense by engaging in activities that push joints together like pushing something heavy or pull joints apart like hanging from monkey bars."

7.  The main goal for us is to stop or avoid escalation before he becomes dysregulated (that would be a meltdown)
8. Speaking in a soft voice most of the time and only raising it when necessary and to stop crazy behaviors.
9.  We need to look inside OURSELVES to see why we react to our kids the way we do.  Do we have some percieved fears or issues that need to be dealt with?
10.  Now here is the thing that really blew us away....Much of what we learned really could pertain to Isaac!!!  Both of us heard behaviors, responses, and things Isaac has done that could fall into the category of a "harmed" child.  (recall he lost his brother Jacob to cancer when Isaac was 8 years old--and he saw a lot of pain and suffering at that time) The difference with him is we know he was loved and cared for in infancy and forward.  And he is almost an adult so coaching him through some of these things is a little different.

The list could go on.  It was 2 full days.  But, some of these things were just mind blowing to us because it means a shift in how we percieve what Lucas is doing, where he has come from and how we can help him to heal.  It's also a shift in how we look at our own reactions.  And in many ways we are more on the same page with eachother.  We just kept looking at eachother with our mouths agape when another piece would be revealed.

We both left knowing we have more to learn, but with real understanding and tools to use.  I think my favorite part of the weekend was having the time alone to talk with Peter for 2 days about any and all of these things without distractions of work/home/kids.  It helped us to process it more.

We returned to a pretty happy boy.
And of course, the first "test" came yesterday during school as soon as I put the reading materials in front of him.  It did escalate, but Peter was there and we both kept looking at eachother for coaching.  We got through it.  And I think we need to pull out a few more tools.  But, Lucas is noticing something is different.  It is going to take some time to work out the kinks and details and to rewire our own brains in many ways.

One of the things Peter reminded me of in a text yesterday was

"Investment Parenting"

That is what we are doing.  Things may take time now to work through, but in the end it will be worth the investment.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Firestation 2-

We visited Station 2 on 9/12/12
(we had to go on a Wednesday because Peter and I went out of town on Friday)
This station has 1 fire engine 
1 Medical Unit (Ambulance)
A few notable things:
There is a fireman at this station named Blaze.
Isn't that the coolest name you ever heard for a fireman?
Station 2 is currently the oldest station in Gwinnett County. 
 It's a little smaller than Station 1, but it's a great group of guys.

This was another temporary truck like we saw at Station 1.  But, still cool!
Fireman Blaze let Lucas put on his gear

charmed I'm sure...
he looks like a drill instructor in this one
pirate??? not quite sure what this face was about!  But, what a cool helmet!

Here are the fireman from Station 2:
Parks, Blaze, Cory Lucas and Lieutenant Jakerry

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Lucas's First Baseball Game!!!

Could a boy have a more exciting weekend?
First a firestation visit on Friday and then his first Tball game Ever on Saturday!  He loved the game, and stuck with it all the way through.  One of the coaches did have to tell him not to "hit" the other guy from the other team as he was running between bases from 1st to 2nd.  Later, I asked him why he did that, and he said he didn't like him and he was cheating.  Kind of funny, because the kid was just doing what he was suppose to do, but Lucas just didn't want him to score.  I hope he isn't going to be the player that starts a fight out on the field--and he doesn't have baseball confused with

Here he is when he got up to bat.  All business...

I found myself saying "run lucas run" ...

a boy just can't resist playing in the dirt.

Yeah!!! That's a Run for Lucas!!!!

Up to bat again...

his bucket o'stuff in the "pen"

They WON!!! 18-17! Go Reds!!!

Here's the sweet part.
He was so excited, but he thought his best bud on the team, Grant, actually won the whole game because he ran in for the final score!  He didn't think his run or any of the other runs made a difference. It was Grant's final run that won the game singlehandedly.  We smiled and said indeed his score along with all the other kids helped win the game.  It was a team effort!

Afterward he was so excited that he said we should eat cake!
Sorry to say I didn't quite get to that, but we will one of these days.
He just kept talking about it over and over again for 2 days.

And this is just the beginning!
So excited for the boy and his hard work and that he even understands now how to play--So amazing to me! One proud momma.


Why does that word throw me?
I mean it really is a descriptor.
I don't consider myself a PC kind of person that gets offended easily because someone used the wrong word to describe something.
I have a plate on my car that is considered a "handicapped"plate.
I park in "handicapped" parking.(when Lucas is with me and I feel it would be a better thing for him)

So here's the story:
The other day I was talking to someone at baseball that doesn't know us well - yet.  But, we are getting to know eachother.   I like her.
We were talking about how I had put Lucas into PeeWee baseball but when he went to the first practice the coach called me and said he might be better suited for Tball since he hadn't played before.  I had already dropped him one level per the age they normally would have put him in for PeeWee.  So it kind of became a big deal at that point for Lucas.  What I heard in the conversation from that first coach was that they suggested it so he could learn the skills needed and it would be a little more laid back than the PeeWee's.  I could see that team already had skills he didn't have and it was obvious they all understood the game well.  I chose to put him in Tball, especially since it is a Fall league with the hopes that he may be able to play PeeWee in the Spring.

Back to the conversation with my new friend...
She asked if they put him in Tball because of his "handicap"?
Why was I taken aback by that?
His legs are obvious.
He runs well, but not quite as fast as the other kids.
There are some obvious differences.

I told her I didn't think so.  I thought it was more because he just doesn't have the skills quite yet since he has never played the game in his life.  At least that is what I am hoping was the reason.

But, it made me realize.
I don't think of him as handicapped.
I just don't.
I rarely cater to it.
I expect him to do the stuff I ask him to do and figure out a way to do it.
Admittedly, I don't think he will ever be a balerina.  But, that was never my goal for him anyway.

The reality is the world does see him as "handicapped'.
So in my own mind I'm thinking what does that word really mean and why would it catch me off guard so much? Do I have an issue with thinking someone who is handicapped is less than ?
Maybe that's the bigger issue?
Am I thinking handicapped means something that would label him as less than capable of doing things--mentally or physically?  Is that why it bothered me?  Is it because I see it as an obvious defect or delay or inability to accomplish something?

I think her question forced me to ask myself if I have an issue with that word.  It was a completely innocent question.   She is not the bad guy here.  It just made me wonder how other people see Lucas and how I view the labels that could potentially come in his life.  If he is labeled as "handicapped" that will give him an excuse to not live up to the goals he sets...(ie being a fireman)

The whole thing made me reflect on my own issues with the word not only for Lucas's sake but also for how I personally percieve others that could be handicapped.  I have to check in with my own judgement and how I view them.  convicted!
Whenever something like that offends me so much--I should always ask myself "why?"

Mt. 7:1-3

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Firestation Fridays--Firestation 1

This may be one of the craziest things I have committed myself to.  
As anyone who's ever read this blog knows, 
we have more pictures of Lucas and firetrucks than anything.  
He is obsessed.

Well, since we homeschool, 
since I can find an excuse to create school out of just about anything...
We are doing a sort of Unit Study on 
drum roll please...
you guessed it...
All The Firestations In Our County!
Now, that may not seem like a big deal, until you realize we live in the largest county in our state.
that means
Each Friday we will go to a firestation 
(sometimes a different day if something else is going on that week)
I am giving him a map to follow to show me how to get there-Geography
We will visit the sation and count how many firemen and what equipment they have and create a chart or graph of it as we go along--That's Math
We will talk to them and write down how they answer a series of questions-Language Arts/Social Studies
We will talk to them about how they use "Science" as they fight fires
and the list goes on.
Then we are going to create a scrapbook of it and put it all together taking pictures, etc.--Art anyone?

Have I fallen off my rocker?
Am I a tad Crazy!
Probably yes on both accounts.
I am not really very good at follow through on big projects like this, 
Let's see how this goes shall we?

Lucas in the car
giving me directions...
That may have been his favorite part of the day
Telling ME where to
The card you see on the top of his clipboard is a picture of him with a paragraph on who he is and how to contact us if they want to.  We are leaving these at each station.
Welcome to
1 Med Rescue Unit
1 Fire Engine

As always, the Firemen were AWESOME! They took all the time we needed to ask questions, touch stuff, open every door of the trucks, have Lucas sit in the trucks, etc.

 Fireman Adam

 Ah ha...that's HEALTH class (Science)...Lucas learned how to take his pulse!

These are used to prop up cars, etc that might slip or fall-more science- that's Physics!
 The infamous Sheet Rock Puller...(one of Lucas's favorites)
 "why do you have such big tires on your truck?"
 Jaws of life...
 This Station has a Med Rescue Unit--We learned this is different than an ambulance.  It has equipment on it for fighting fires as well as the medical care it provides.  Ambulances are simply medical.
 A stair wheel chair that can get people up and down stairs..
 Unit 1

 Med Unit

The Firemen of Station 1-B shift-

Matt, Ryan, Joel, (Lucas) Adam and Cory
 And as usual on a hot sticky day in of the guys sweetly put on all that gear so Lucas could once again pose with fireman Ryan in his Turnout Gear. top it all off??? They gave permission for Lucas to SPRAY A REAL FIREHOSE
(a small one mind you or he would have been knocked to the ground--) but he couldn't have been happier...

 ya baby!!!
 Thanks are going to be a hard act to follow!!!